Wellness is transforming luxury for the better


Combatting a pandemic for the past two years brought wellness to the forefront of consciousness.

Industries have absolutely exploded to accommodate the thirst for wellness trends. Wellness travel is especially strong, with this market estimated at $4.5 trillion, according to the Global Wellness Institute.

“It is one of the world’s most fastest-growing segments, for obvious reasons,” said Dina Fenili Niekamp, director of brand and marketing at Miraval Resorts and Spas, Tucson, Arizona, during Luxury Portfolio International’s 2021 Affluence Forum.

miraval austin
A Miraval Wellness Resort and Spa in Austin, Texas

“Our businesses haven’t slowed down,” she said. “What that’s done to us as individuals is stretched us continuously.”

Hard work requires individuals to find time to unwind to prevent burnout, among other negative mental and physical health effects.

“Before a big showing or big meeting, what I always try to do is take five minutes in a private space, do a quick breath work and recenter and then I’m focused for what’s ahead,” Ms. Fenili Niekamp said.

In fact, she briefly paused the discussion during her session to lead the audience in a 4×4 breathing exercise.

“Take in for a count of four, hold for a count of four, release for a count of four and hold for a count of four,” she said. “If you do that four times, it produces a minute.”

As everyone returned to reality, she asked, “Does everyone feel calmer?”

Full circle

Although wellness is the hot topic of today, it is far from new. Wellness was already well on the rise in luxury prior to the pandemic.

In March of 2020, weeks before the United States went into its first lockdown, Luxury Portfolio International released a wellness-oriented issue of Luxury Portfolio magazine and, just days before the lockdown, it released its report, The Great Wellness Surge: Bringing the Best Life Home.

Obviously, both were far more relevant than initially anticipated.

One groundbreaking statistic pulled from that report is that an incredible 90 percent of luxury homeowners say their overall personal wellness is very important.

miraval austin yoga
Ninety percent of luxury homeowners prioritize personal wellness

“There is a lot of affluent consumers that are willing to pay a premium for whatever their wellness solution is,” Ms. Fenili Niekamp said.

Hoping to capture this premium, every luxury brand imaginable is breaking into wellness, “from beauty and fashion, to travel and fitness, and now, of course, real estate,” she said.

As wellness grows ever popular, it is important to note the difference between wellness and health.

“It’s not only your physical wellbeing, but it is also your holistic state of wellbeing, and that means your mind,” Ms. Fenili Niekamp said. “It is actually the intersection of your mind, your body and your spirit. You can be physically really fit, but if your mind isn’t there, you’re not going to get the same results.

“You can be very mindful, but if you’re not well and you’re not taking care of your body and whatever that means for you, you’re not getting that 360,” she said.

Well designed

As home offices became more of an expectation than a nice-to-have, it has been joined by wellness amenities to offset the added stress at home.

By the end of 2020, for example, pools topped the list in terms of amenities that luxury homeowners came to appreciate – above all else.

“Because people have extended the time that they’re in their home, all of the sudden, they want their dwellings to influence their behaviors, their moods and their beliefs,” Ms. Fenili Niekamp said.

Those seeking inspiration need look no further than Miraval’s thoughtfully designed properties.

“We create these intentional moments throughout all of our campuses,” Ms. Fenili Niekamp said.

“First, we have these really large campuses, hundreds of acres,” she said. “We create these little special havens that you discover along the way, whether it’s a prayer tree with little notes written by previous guests and tied to a tree or a beautiful fire pit where you can set your intention.”

Throughout Miraval’s properties, guests enjoy intentional moments and immersive experiences

Delving deeper into the details, Miraval centered feng shui, light, sound, biogeometry and natural materials within its architecture.

“Each [location] is designed around the native region,” Ms. Fenili Niekamp said.

“For example, in Tucson, you’re going to feel like you’re part of the desert – the color scheme, the elements we use,” she said. “There’s healing aromas of jasmine, the light fixtures mimic desert sunlight and there’s actual crystals integrated into our walls to radiate energy for our guests. Again, always coming back to feng shui, where everything is placed and where it is the highest energy.”

miraval tucson
Miraval builds its properties to feel native to their locations, such as Miraval Tucson

It is easy to replicate these design practices at home.

“There’s a lot of research on different crystals for different parts of your home, depending on what your intent is,” Ms. Fenili Niekamp said. “Pink crystals traditionally equate to love, so that might be a crystal you put in your bedroom.”

Other crystals may ward off bad spirits or bring prosperity.

“You can also plant crystals outside at the four corners of the property to protect the whole property,” Ms. Fenili Niekamp said.

No service

As mentioned previously, wellness involves physical, spiritual and mental health. All of which can be affected by being too connected in terms of technology.

Technology, however, offers some benefits.

“We’re here connected today virtually, which is so amazing,” Ms. Fenili Niekamp said. “It’s brought communities together.

“But when do we turn it off? At what point in the day do you turn it off and put the cell phone down?” she said.

Developers design apps to be addicting.

“They know how to set little notifications that give you a nudge and pull you right back in and keep you hooked,” Ms. Fenili Niekamp said. “They watch your activity. If you haven’t been logged on for a certain amount of time, they’re going to nudge you.”

The effects of overusing a smartphone are physical as well.

“When you’re looking down, it’s like having a five-year-old child sitting on the back of your neck. The longer you do that, the more hours you do that in a day, all of a sudden, your posture starts changing, your body starts changing, your neck muscles start to stress up,” Ms. Fenili Niekamp said, an insight she gathered from Catherine Price, digital mindfulness ambassador at Miraval Resorts and Spas.

“It doesn’t make you a better mother, father, sister, brother, leader – it really takes away and empties you,” she said.

It is nearly unavoidable to disconnect completely, but it is essential to find times to cut it off.

“A ritualistic activity of mindfulness is to put that cell phone to bed,” Ms. Fenili Niekamp said. “If it’s past 6 p.m., you’re done, your work hours are done. Put it down, put it in its sleeping bag and dedicate your time to your home life and your wellness and your family, if you have it.”

The sleeping bag that Ms. Fenili Niekamp was referring to is quite literal. Miraval sells mobile phone sleeping bags at its properties.

cell phone sleeping bag
Miraval’s cell phone sleeping bags enable guests to put their phone to bed, enabling them to better participate in the present

AFFLUENT CONSUMERS are increasingly prioritizing their overall experience in life over flashy goods, which is exactly why the industry is catching on and embracing wellness.

Good wellness, however, is not something that is consumed. Money absolutely aids in the quest towards wellbeing, but achieving true wellness is priceless.

“Wellness is not a trend, this is a way of life now,” Ms. Fenili Niekamp said. “This is what we have to do to survive.”